Records that include whooping and hollering are just that little bit more exciting that ones that don’t. Get It by the Silvertones is a prime example. The song writing credit goes to Tom Dimuzlo, but there’s very little I can tell you about the Silvertones. Get It was released in 1963 on Goliath Records, which was a Californian label started by Tony Butala and Bob Todd. It was also released on Valiant Records the following year, probably to achieve greater distribution. Like a lot of records that came out of California in 1963, there’s a definite surfy feel to Get It, which is even more evident on the calmer flip, Bathsheba.
Guitarist Jan Davis was born John Bird in Hollywood, California. As well as releasing his own surf guitar hot-rod records, including Fugitive, Boss Machine (two sides I blogged about some time ago during a very short lived phase of not adding any words to the post), Watusi Zombie and more, he also was involved with B. Bumble and the Stingers and went on to carve out a career as a classical guitarist. Plus, it’s Davis’s voice you hear yelling near the start of Dick Dale’s Misirlou. I’m not sure what his connection to the Syrian capital was, but in 1961 Rendezvous released the exotic sounding surf instrumental Damascus by him and his band, The Ricco-Shays.
I post a lot of instrumental songs that have the surf guitar sound, but what we have here is the source of that sound. It doesn’t get any purer than Dick Dale and Night Rider is one of his most exciting tunes. Dick Dale records are about the loudest I’ve heard; energy bursts out of the speakers as the needle glides through the spinning groove. Released on Capitol in 1963, Night Rider was the flip of The Wedge, also a great surf classic, but Night Rider is just breathtaking. If you’re a fan of Misirlou, you need to hear this.
Israeli Twist is a neat studio-band take on the Hebrew folk song, Hava Nagila. It’s got that exotic surf sound which was popular in 1962 and is perennially popular in my DJ sets. This isn’t the first time I’ve posted a version of Hava Nagila and I’ve got a few more in my collection still. I can’t tell you much about The J-Walkers, except that they seem to be the creation of Jackie Walker, a singer in vocal group The Baysiders from California.
Whoever Bob Vaught & The Renegades were, they’ve managed to hide it from the internet pretty well. I can tell you that in 1963 they released a whole album of surf songs called Surf Crazy on the Californian GNP Crescendo label. Side one, track one is Exotic, which was also released as a single. Mine’s pictured above in its beautiful company sleeve. Two years ago I posted a different, more exotic version of Exotic, and discovered that it’s based on an old Spanish folk song called The Zorongo.
And now for a recent acquisition I’m very pleased with, a pair of obscure instrumentals from The Nightmares, a group that I can’t find nada about. The Nightmare! is a cool spooky stroller, but Greyhound is the side I bought it for. Dually driven by a piano and guitar that are slightly out of tune, so it sounds like they’re competing against each other in a close race to the finish line. Released in 1960, it has the feel of a surf record, although it was just the early days of that movement. Fredlo was a recording studio as well as a record label, run by a married couple on the ground floor of their home. It started in Illinois, but was based in Davenport, Iowa (a long way from any surf beaches) when this recording was made.
mp3: Ray Maxwell – Misirlou
I mentioned Moonglow Records in my previous post. It was a subsidiary of the Belgian label Ronnex and run by Rene Jan van Hoogten, the brother of Ronnex founder, Alfred Jan van Hoogten. Alfred sent Rene to the USA to set up Moonglow. While there he became Ray Maxwell, apparently to make it easier for Americans to pronounce his name. Maxwell achieved heroic and legendary feats, such as discovering the Righteous Brothers and recording this mighty take on Misirlou. It doesn’t stray far from Dick Dale’s version, but even managing that is heroic enough.
Del-Fi was a Californian label first known for Richie Valens and then the type of guitar-based surf music that today’s selection is a prime example of. The Lively Ones were a group who emerged out of the remnants of The Surfmen, who I wrote about not too long ago. In 1963 they borrowed heavily from a song called Spudnik by The Ventures, undoubtedly the biggest instrumental surf band of all time. The Lively Ones credited the song to the Ventures’ Nokie Edwards, but released it as Surf Rider. It was a hit and so The Ventures soon rerecorded their own version, also calling it Surf Rider. The Lively Ones’ Surf Rider got a second lease of life in the mid-nineties through being used at the end of the film Pulp Fiction and included on its iconic soundtrack.
Another Halloween tune, a specter inspired instrumental from California’s The Surfmen. The Ghost Hop is the flip to their most popular song, the slow and dreamy Paradise Cove. But, this is the side that has stood the test of time. It was apparently considered but passed over for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Not long after The Ghost Hop was released in 1962, just as instrumental surf rock was gaining momentum, the group’s guitarist and the guy who wrote today’s selection, Ray Hunt, left The Surfmen. He was replaced, but the same fate soon followed for all other members apart from the drummer. Since they were pretty much a new group anyway, they decided to rename themselves The Lively Ones. In 1963 The Lively Ones released Surf Rider, which did make it onto the Pulp Fiction soundtrack thirty odd years later.
mp3: The Tarantulas – Black WidowHere are a couple of spooky surf singles, perfect moody music for your Halloween playlists. The Tarantulas’ eponymous Tarantula and its deadly Black Widow flip were recorded at Fernwood studio – the garage behind Slim Wallace’s home on Fernwood Drive – in Memphis in 1960 and released the following year on Atlantic Records.
An Aquarium Drunkard
Be Bop Wino
The B Side
Carlos Rene's Scene64
Derek's Daily 45
The Devil's Music
Flea Market Funk
Frankie Bundle's Mazzetta78
Home Of The Groove
Jester Wild Show
Kogar's Jungle Juice
La Dimension De Trastos
Liam Large's Rekkids
Mean Mojo Mathias
Night Beat Records
So Many Records, So Little Time
You Got Good Taste